“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Matt 22:34-40.
Jesus’s emphatic reply to his questioners remains a centerpiece for the good life.
His law of love remains our task — to love the Lord, our God with heart, soul, and mind. And, to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
Such a double-commandment of love weighs on us, especially now as citizens. As voters, we ponder the upcoming presidential, local, and statewide elections. Please take a moment to reflect on how we should make our vote count. Do you feel a bit overwhelmed? Much like a migraine headache of national and global concerns?
Based on my years of teaching about history, media, and politics, here are two ideas of mine.
First, I’m reminded of a poem by Walt Whitman, the great sage, who, in October of 1884 at the time of a fierce political contest, wrote a poem entitled “Election Day.” He calls November 3 – “the still small voice vibrating – America’s choosing day.”
Whitman makes the case that election day is so distinctive and potent, more meaningful than our geography of Niagara, Yosemite, or Yellowstone or the mighty Mississippi’s stream. He writes:
“This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name – the still small voice vibrating – America’s choosing day.”
My second point — recall that with the election of George Washington in 1789, our country has conducted 58 presidential elections; thus, the upcoming election on November 3 will be the 59th. Each of these national elections has occurred every four years, despite wars, financial collapse, and even civil unrest.
In Washington’s day, the idea of a “United States of America” was based on the territory with voting limited to land and property owners. Much as changed since then, even our idea of what “united” may mean.
Of course, the term “united” refers to a particular geography of political regions or provinces that we call states. Each possesses a distinct population with representatives to local or town, state, and national governments.
Perhaps, we are less united today. What we experience now are powerful agencies that greatly influence our lives.
Instead of a United States of America, we have entities such as the “Governmental State of America,” or the “Business State of America,” the “Media State of America,” an “Education State of America,” or a “Health Care State of America,” the “Environmental State of America,” and so on.
As citizens, for the moment, we don’t feel so united, a bit overwhelmed, and perhaps we are divided along racial, ethnic, and economic lines.
How does this figure with our gospel and our lives as Christians? How does our nation recover our unity, moral cohesion, and genuine community?
Recall these words: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? Jesus said, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
The whole law and yes, our future may depend on this love of God and neighbor that has the power to heal and unite.
More than simple geography, each citizen is caring for the soul of America – a compassionate state of America.
Here is where we might begin our national renewal.
Let us pray for all citizens of the United States of America – who have leadership choices and must make decisions about the day-to-day policies of our state or town, and country.
It’s America’s choosing day, and the choice is yours.
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.